Interview with Chris Baena

Wednesday, August 23, 2000 - 23:00 talked with Chris Baena, Associate Producer of The Sims Livin' Large. Get the full story here!

Go to, or click read more below to read the interview and see the screenshots on our website.

Chris Baena, Associate Producer on The Sims Livin' Large

The Sims Livin' LargeAfter Maxis released The Sims to rave reviews from both critics and consumers alike the next step was naturally the creations of an expansion pack; and with The Sims: Livin' Large Maxis has done just that. If you always wished that you had more furniture, more wallpaper, more jobs, and just more of everything to choose from then this is your dream come true. Chris Baena, the Associate Producer on Livin' Large, was kind enough to take some time to fulfill our neverending lust for information.

The Sims Livin' LargeLivin' Large is the official Sims expansion pack, so when did Maxis begin this project? What has been your involvement?
Chris Baena: My name is Chris Baena and I am the Associate Producer on Livin' Large. Livin' Large is a definite "must have" for any Sims owner. We started this project in March, soon after The Sims launched. Talk about a cool expansion pack. We took a very different approach to the creation of all the new content. We have added many cool elements to the world of The Sims such as: a genie, the grim reaper, a clown, monsters, clones, and a new bed which provides some surprising new gameplay twists I might add... Wink

The Sims Livin' LargeAre there going to be any fundamental gameplay additions to The Sims Livin' Large?
CB: The Sims Livin' Large adds a ton of new gameplay additions to The Sims universe but fundamentally it is the same game. Players of The Sims will be able to dive right into Livin' Large with no problem.

The Sims Livin' LargeCould you go over what Maxis has added to the world of The Sims for Livin' Large?Approximately, how many objects, career paths, building options, skins, etc. will be included?
CB: There are approximately 125 new objects, 5 new careers, a ton of new walls and floors, and over 40 user created skins. We will also be providing all content that has been released on since The Sims was released in February.

The Sims Livin' LargeThe new objects that are included in Livin' Large fall into two categories: mimic objects and new gameplay objects. The mimic objects include more sofas, chairs, tables, counters, toilets, etc. We made sure that these objects are part of large sets that have a central theme. For instance, there is an entire Vegas line of furniture that one would consider gaudy and somewhat cheesy if you will. Within the Vegas line of furniture there are chairs, tables, beds, etc., so the player can decorate his/her Sim house and all of the furniture matches. No more problems with color coordination. All of you interior decorators out there can now be very proud of your Sims' houses. The new gameplay objects on the other hand add exciting new twists to the world of The Sims. You can now make potions with the Concoctanation Station Chemistry Set. You can torture your friends and enemies with the Little Voodoo Dolly. You can even try to resurrect your dead Sims when the Grim Reaper visits your house!

What new interactions will be available between the Sims and objects as well as between the Sims themselves?
CB: All of the new gameplay objects in Livin' Large have new interactions associated with them. Let's see…Make Potion, Plea, Vibrate, and Gaze are a few of the new interactions, but I will have to leave it at that to keep an element of surprise for all of those Sims fans out there.

The Sims Livin' LargeHas the artificial intelligence changed at all? Are there going to be significant pathfinding improvements?
CB: The AI and pathfinding has not changed from The Sims.

What's your personal favorite addition from Livin' Large?
CB: I really like torturing my enemies in the neighborhood with the Voodoo Doll. Seeing them double over in pain makes me laugh…I guess that's the sick and twisted side of me coming out;-).

You've got MTV and skins for download already on the Internet, will Livin' Large feature more of this type of in-game advertising? You could really do something neat if you teamed up the CBS's Big Brother, just a thought...
CB: Livin' Large doesn't include any in-game advertising but I'm sure there will be more of that down the road that will be made available for download on our website.

Will the new content being released on be compatible with both the original game and this expansion?
CB: Yes, new downloads on will be compatible with both The Sims and Livin' Large.

The Sims Livin' LargeAre there going to be any performance enhancements that will make the game run a little smoother on lower-end systems?
CB: There was nothing done in this area for Livin' Large.

The Sims Livin' LargePersonal request: how about giving our Sims a little console gaming action? Please...
CB: We'll just see about that...

Many thanks for fielding our questions; anything we missed that you'd like to cover? Or you could just rant for a while...
CB: I want to just tell all those Sims fans out there to not miss Livin' Large. We put a lot of effort into this expansion pack and I think that you will all really enjoy it. It adds a definite "lighter" element to the Sims' world.

The Sims Livin' LargeDuring development of the expansion Pack, Sean Baity, one of the Assistant Producers, and myself would play the game late at night and all of a sudden we would hear each other start howling because we were so amazed at how funny the game was with the incorporation of all these new objects. I would go over to his cubicle and ask him what was so funny and he would explain what his Sims were doing and we wouldn't be able to stop laughing. Livin' Large is A LOT of fun, period.

Thanks for letting me share this with everyone and remember to run out and grab Livin' Large before they're all sold out!!! Wink

Additional thanks goes to Patrick Buechner for setting us up for all these Maxis interviews! We could never have done any of them without you.

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